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REV. C. H. ROWLAND, A.B., M.A., D.D.

On the 10th day of September, 1895, I arrived at Elon College to do five years’ work in order to receive a diploma from that institution. It seemed like an impossible task. A well-worn trunk held my belongings, which consisted of a preacher’s coat of long standing. My purse contained the whole amount of six dollars and seventy-five cents. It might be of interest to say that I was nearing my twenty-seventh birthday, and had been a licensed preacher for four years. There is no need to tell why I was at college without money, for I have already said, that I was a preacher, and the Scriptures say, “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called.”

It was Dr. Smith Baker, of Maine, who said, “In the ministerial profession, four-fifths of the ministers worked their own way by doing all kinds of work from sawing wood to teaching school.” I was not one of the class who sawed wood, neither did I teach school, but I preached, just simply preached. I have not asked those who heard me what they called it, but I called it “preaching.” I always believed 121 that if a young man had brains and energy he could obtain an education without much help from anyone but God. My trouble was, I wanted enough money before I went to college to “put me through.” I suppose, if I had been so favored with money, I would not have been worth “putting through.”

That was a ride never to be forgotten on that September morning, when I left my home to drive thirteen miles to Raleigh, N. C., to take the train for Elon College. A widowed mother at home—practically no money in my pocket, and five years’ work to be done in college. My little bark was on a stormy sea, but I had decided to use the oars with all my might, and if I went down I would be breasting the storm. If it had not been for the prayers and sacrifices of a Christian mother, and the encouragement of a devoted cousin, who lived with us, I should have failed. That same mother is helping her boy to-day by her prayers, although she has passed her four score years, and has been an invalid for many years. When I arrived in Raleigh, I was met on the street by an uncle, and he asked, “Where are you going?” I said, “I am going to Elon College.” He turned and walked with me down the street until he came to a drug store, and then he said, “Come in here for I want to give you something.” We went in, and he asked for a box of soap, and he purchased a box containing three bars of soap. He had it wrapped nicely, and we walked out, and then he said, “I want to give you this for 122 service and a symbol; keep yourself clean.” I do not know which he thought I needed the most, the soap or the advice, but I know that both were timely, and I feel sure I profited by the incident.

My first day at college left me almost penniless, for I paid five dollars as a matriculation fee, and the remaining one dollar and seventy-five cents was invested in second-hand books, except a few cents retained to pay postage in writing to my mother and my girl. That first week at college was a long one, but at last Saturday came, and I dressed and went to the depot to go to my Sunday appointment fifty miles away. I met one of the professors on my way to the station, and he asked me, “Where are you going?” My heart sank within me, for I did not have a dime in my pocket, but I said, “I am going to fill my appointment.” Just before I got to the depot, for I “walked and was sad,” I met a preacher. He looked kind, but preachers are generally poor men to borrow money from, but I said right out, “Brother ——, loan me one dollar until Monday.” That preacher had the real money, and it might have been his last dollar, but he handed it to me. It took almost every cent to pay my railroad fare, and nothing with which to return. That was one time I acted on faith. The church which I was serving at that time held a conference on that Saturday afternoon, and one of the brethren asked that they pay up just a little better, as “their pastor was in college.” They paid me a little more than a 123 dozen dollars that day, and I am sure that I preached better than usual on the following day. I received one hundred dollars from that church that year, and paid twenty-five of that to the railroad for transportation.

That college year was not far spent, when another church called me to become pastor at a salary of fifty dollars for the year. I had resigned two churches before I left home, as they were so far from the College that they took more of my time than I could give, and the expenses were more than the salary paid. My brother gave me most of my clothes, and all the help he could, and my churches paid other bills. The vacation was spent in evangelistic work for which I received a small amount. The second year was even more gloomy than the first, for the hired man at home had failed to make good. Someone had to be found to take his place, and it seemed for some time that I would have to be the man. After arrangement was made for home I began my second year at college with one more church, and that one was much nearer and it was to pay one hundred and twenty-five dollars as a salary.

It may seem like a small matter to preach three Sundays in each month, and attend school, but it is hard on all—the professors, the student, and the people. With three churches I began the third year, but in ten days after I returned to the College I had the misfortune to shoot one of my feet, 124 and a part of the foot had to be taken off, and one-half of the year was lost from college. It seemed that the way was now blocked entirely, and that my college days were at an end; but mother, my faithful cousin, and I put our heads together, and we decided to move to the College. When we arrived at Elon College, Christmas of 1897, I was still pastor of three churches, but my expenses were so much increased that I took the fourth appointment at a salary of seventy-five dollars for the year, making my salary in all three hundred and fifty dollars. The remainder of my time at the College I preached every Sunday, with few exceptions.

It does look like a reflection on those churches to tell of the small amount paid for preaching, but the thing that startles me is, how they were ever able to pay what they did for such preaching. I hope they feel that they were giving themselves to save a poor preacher in college. The amount received for preaching did not meet our family expenses, but we took a few boarders, and received a little from the farm, and the rest I borrowed. The last year was a test of faith also, for my strength was hardly equal to the task of keeping up with my classes, and looking after home duties, and preaching every Sunday, and trying to make up some work missed while lame from my accident. Work was piling up, churches were paying poorly, grades were poor, and the breaking-point almost reached, and it was my senior year. I would not let myself think about 125 failing to receive my diploma, but the way was dark. The commencement time was coming, and money was getting more scarce, and bills more frequent. One day a real friend came to me and said, “A man trying as hard as you are needs help,” and she handed me a sum of money. I wept, and she wept with me, but I saw through those tears light that I had not seen before.

The day of graduation came on the 14th day of June, 1900. It was a glad day, and a sad day, for I felt that I had almost reached the goal, but I knew that I had not gotten all that I ought to have gotten out of my college course. I thought people would ask me about my grades, but not one has asked me about them yet. I find that folks are not interested in what my grades were, but what I can do.

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One thing I learned by being at college without money, and that was that money is not essential to character. Money cannot cover up badness, neither can poverty hide goodness. It is not a matter of how little money you have to get through college, for the money is the smallest part of a college life. The less money the better in some cases. It is not so much money as it is great Faith, and a Determination.

Franklin, Virginia.

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My father, George W. Saunders, was born in England, June 3, 1837. His parents emigrated with their children and settled in Oneida County, New York, in the spring of 1852. My mother, Mary E. Walker, was also born in England and came with her people in the forties to the same county in America, and I presume they should properly be placed in that large class of people who were “poor but honest”; my maternal grandfather, Thomas Walker, became a prosperous farmer, and lived to a very old age. Shortly after his coming to America, my grandfather, William Saunders, became an invalid and my father, being the oldest of a large family, was compelled to assist in earning a livelihood for the family and so was deprived of early educational advantages. He was a man of strong natural talents, of strict integrity, and was commonly known as a “hard-headed old Englishman.” He became a very successful farmer before his death and “passed over the grade” financially just as I became of age. My sainted mother was a plain, home woman who loved her family and her God, and who devoted her life 127 to her family of eight children and her husband. I was the oldest child, and was born on the 10th day of April, 1861, in Oneida County, New York. In 1868 my father removed to Iowa City, Iowa, where he was a railroad foreman for five years, and during those years I attended the graded school when I was not sick. In the spring of 1873 my father concluded he did not desire to rear his boys about a railroad, and so settled upon an eighty-acre farm, near Stuart, Iowa. At this early age, when I was puny and weak, I was forced by the financial condition of the family to enter upon the active duties of the farm. Many a day have I plowed, when I did not possess sufficient strength to pull the plow around the corners, and lifted it around by getting the handles upon my shoulder. In the spring of 1876, my father saw that he could make only a bare living upon his small farm, so he sold it and removed to Vail, Iowa, and settled in the rich and fertile valley of the Boyer River. At this time he had about two thousand dollars, a weak body, and an ambition to achieve success. An injury sustained while in the railroad employment incapacitated him from doing the heavy work of the farm, but it did not impair either his ambition or his energy. I worked from seven in the morning until sundown on the long summer days behind a heavy team. Mother sympathized with me, but father never realized that the toil was beyond my strength. He was a firm believer in the doctrine of “hard work” and that 128 “Satan finds mischief still for idle hands to do,” and governed himself accordingly. He loved his family and did the best for them that his means permitted.

The county was new and people were all poor, but the land owners characterized the others as “poor renters.” For four years we were in the latter class. I completed the country school, in the spring of 1877, and then desired to enter the Vail school, the course of which did not extend beyond what would now be classed as the eighth grade. We lived three miles from town, and as my people could not afford to pay my board in the village, I was necessarily compelled to live at home and go horseback to school. When I was about sixteen, I determined to become a lawyer and so informed my people. They treated the announcement as a boyish whim, and later discouraged me from entering upon such a course. Father urged that I might become one of those “educated fools” and mother, who was a devoted member of the Methodist Church, quoted to me that passage of Scripture, “Woe unto ye lawyers.”

Books to the amount of about seven dollars were required if I should enter the Vail school and that was a large sum of money in our large family. The turning point in my life came on a cold December day in 1877. I had taken a load of hay to Denison about eight miles away. All the way there and back I was pondering over the question of an education. When I drove into the yard after returning from 129 town, father came to assist in putting away the team. I was stiff with cold, but I said, “Father, I am going to Vail to school after New Year’s.” He retorted, “Where is the money to come from for the books?” I said, “Father, you spend six dollars per year for chewing tobacco” (his only bad habit), “and you can afford that much to send your boy to school.”

I went to school two and a half months that winter and likewise the next two winters. I then secured a second-grade certificate and taught a county school the two winters preceding my twenty-first birthday. Each winter I taught a four months’ term—wages $30 per month the first winter, and $35 the second. The first winter I walked three miles across the prairie, cared for a team at home and acted as my own janitor at the schoolhouse. This was the awful winter of 1880-81, when the snow was four feet deep on the level. There were no roads that were available to me, and I made my own path. I saved one hundred dollars that winter and a like sum the following winter, so when I attained my majority in April, 1882, I had two hundred dollars. I had never had an overcoat and I did not possess even a trunk. I owned a colt that I sold for fifty dollars. That summer I worked on my father’s farm at a wage of twenty dollars per month for five months, and on September 15, 1882, I started for Drake University with $350, a suit of clothes and a trunk. I had thought by day and dreamed by night of a college 130 education, and now the dream was to become a reality. As the train whistled at the station, father grasped me by the hand and, with tears streaming down his face, said, “Boy, I have opposed this all the time, but I guess you are doing the right thing.” That was the first word of encouragement I had ever received from my parents to proceed with my education.